The way in which relationships are renegotiated in the aftermath of divorce is critical to the future well-being of family members. When estranged parents are able to redefine boundaries in their own relationship, it allows their children to maintain a healthy relationship with both, and paves the way for a more intact and functional family system. Toward this end, the author presents a state-of-the-art overview of divorce, child custody, and mediation within the context of the latest psychological research and contemporary divorce law. Providing specific techniques and detailed case histories, he outlines an approach for estranged couples to renegotiate their relationship, defining new boundaries of intimacy and power between the various members of the family. The book illustrates how mediation can keep a large percentage of families out of court, increase parents' satisfaction with the process, encourage the involvement of both parents with the children, and break out of the "win-lose" mentality of the law and negotiate "win-win" settlements instead.
Renegotiating Family Relationships opens with an examination of how gender bears on the attitudes both parents and children maintain toward divorce. It describes specific steps for separating marital and parental roles, as well as for dealing with cycles of love, anger, and sadness that characterize grief in divorce. The role of children in a divorced family system is explored, and strategies are provided for setting up visitation schedules, disciplinary tactics, joint physical custody, and other parenting arrangements. Ways to balance loyalties and alliances in the parent-child-parent triad are also discussed.
Divorce and custody law and the implications they have for mediation are examined, with sections discussing such issues as financial settlements, property division, alimony, child support, taxes, remarriage, and post-divorce economics for single mothers. Theories of custody dispute resolution and tactics for bargaining and settling disputes are also presented, as are methods for negotiating agreements, including ways to determine settlement policies, and conduct mediation sessions with parents.
Offering strategies for working with attorneys and judges, the book describes how to define problems; set up caucuses; focus on issues instead of emotions; and review areas of agreement and disagreement. Later chapters focus on custody mediation research and psychological research on children, parents, and divorce with an examination of precedent-setting mediation cases, issues of compliance, demographics of divorce, and how both children and parents adjust to the divorce process in light of changes in the family structure. Finally, the future of custody mediation is also discussed.
Comprehensive in scope, this volume will interest a wide range of mental health professionals--psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and family counselors. It will inform legal professionals working with couples trying to renegotiate their relationship. It also serves as a text for graduate courses or advanced undergraduate courses related to either mental health or the law.